NUS MBA graduate Dr. Vikram Jaisinghani looks back on CSR-Kaleidoscope, a CSR conference targeting MBA students from leading Business Schools in Singapore.
I woke up on Oct. 8th, 2009 with butterflies in my stomach. This was the day for which I had toiled tirelessly for the last 5 months; when ‘CSR Kaleidoscope 2009’ would make its debut. It was over lunch at the NUS Business Canteen in May 2008 that Kathrin (executive committee member of the Social Impact Club) and I decided to host a CSR conference targeting MBA students from leading Business Schools in Singapore. And today was the day when this idea was going to unfold itself into reality.
I would liken the experience of conceptualizing, planning and organizing CSR Kaleidoscope to a roller-coaster ride. There were times when things would magically fall into place making it seem ‘too good to be true’ and at times there were unexpected surprises enough to give me a minor heart-attack! The key challenge for me was to get ten panelists for the 2 panel discussions for the event. Trying to coordinate the availability and time of ten prominent people from different industries on one day for an event was not an easy task. With help from Prof. Bob Fleming, Mr. Thomas & Minju from Singapore Compact and some NUS Alumni, I managed to get most panelists confirmed by August end. I struggled the most in trying to get corporate panelist for the discussion on ‘Socially responsible advertising’ and later realized why-being a grey area without any defined criteria on what is ‘socially responsible’ I guess no company wanted to be caught on the wrong foot in a public forum like ours. The final panelist for this panel discussion confirmed just 3 weeks before the final event and I heaved a sigh of relief.
My other major concern for the event was that of student interest and attendance. Being the youngest club of the NUS MBA Student Council with no ‘history’ or ‘flag-ship event’ to boast of and being one of the ‘non-mainstream’ student Clubs, generating interest amongst the MBA students would be a task by itself. To tackle this, I had devised an aggressive promotional strategy for not the NUS MBA students but also for students from the target Business Schools in Singapore.
My first step was to talk at length about the objective and rationale behind CSR Kaleidoscope to the relevant person of contact at all these schools. This was followed by an e-flyer on why CSR is relevant to MBA students and what is in it for them at the event. Within a week, the registration e-flyer giving details about the program and the distinguished panelists was mailed out to all the schools followed by a poster that was given to them to be put up at strategic locations within the campus.
I had one first year MBA student in-charge of following up with each School on the interest level and registrations from their students. This was followed by ‘count-down’ e-flyers that were sent out on 7, 5, 3, 2 days and 1 day from the event. I believe this strategy worked as was evident by the audience of 200 that turned up for the event.
As the event unfolded on the evening of October 8th, I was in a dazed state – this is what I had been working towards over the past few months and I found it hard to believe that it was actually happening. Details of the event have been vividly described in a separate blog by my counterpart at Nanyang Business School, Jenny Costelloe. From an organizers point of view, I was very happy and relieved at the final outcome – the event had turned out exactly the way I had envisioned it to be when I set out with this goal 5 months ago. The panel discussions, the audience turn-out, the dinner and networking post-event, everything went as planned.
The feedback I received from the panelists, faculty, students (NUS and other schools) was unanimous-that it was a ‘great event’! I guess these words are like music to the ears of any person organizing a major event, especially when it is being done for the first time. It was worth all the effort and time that had been invested and I am all set to finally start my job hunt and look forward to embark on another exciting phase of life post-MBA.
Dr. Vikram Jaisinghani
Class of 2010